Sunday, October 02, 2005

Liberty vs. Equality

A relatively new blog out there that I have found to be quite interesting is Joel's Humanistic Blog, created by Joel Schlosberg. In a recent post about the pros and cons of Jonathan Kozol, he mentions and quotes from an essay by Bertrand Russell called Proposed Roads to Freedom. I haven't read the essay yet, but I'll get around to it soon. The excerpt that Schlosberg provides is actually a quote from G.D.H. Cole's Self-Government in Industry, and it's one that deserves quoting yet again.
What, I want to ask, is the fundamental evil in our modern Society which we should set out to abolish?

There are two possible answers to that question, and I am sure that very many well-meaning people would make the wrong one. They would answer POVERTY, when they ought to answer SLAVERY. Face to face every day with the shameful contrasts of riches and destitution, high dividends and low wages, and painfully conscious of the futility of trying to adjust the balance by means of charity, private or public, they would answer unhesitatingly that they stand for the ABOLITION OF POVERTY.

Well and good! On that issue every Socialist is with them. But their answer to my question is none the less wrong.

Poverty is the symptom: slavery the disease. The extremes of riches and destitution follow inevitably upon the extremes of license and bondage. The many are not enslaved because they are poor, they are poor because they are enslaved. Yet Socialists have all too often fixed their eyes upon the material misery of the poor without realizing that it rests upon the spiritual degradation of the slave.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it's important to realize that this is because socialists don't favor an end to slavery. Put another way, they are no more in favor of individual liberty than any other group of authoritarians. They, like all other authoritarians, wish to compel the individual to do what they believe to be moral. The key difference here is that you and I have no desire to do coercively create "moral" behavior.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"The many are not enslaved because they are poor, they are poor because they are enslaved."

That right there is an aphorism worthy of putting on a giant billboard.

1:01 AM  

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